Hughes Exhibits No Change in First Start

Phil Hughes looked pretty solid in his Spring debut, yesterday. 2 innings of no hit, no run ball is nice. 90-92 on his fastball, for the first outing of the year is nice. Working hitters inside for a change is nice (despite nicking a couple guys). His curve didn’t have the nasty bite it had at the end of last year, but it was nice.

But one thing that hasn’t changed is… well… his change. Granted, the kid is still only 22, but that is the pitch that many pundits point to as the key to his becoming an ace or just a pretty good pitcher, and he’s been working on it for the last two years now with, uh, no change.

Obama may have won the election by calling for change, but Jorge Posada ain’t winning nothin’ if he calls for that change from Phil. Yes, the kid is absurdly young and could still develop that pitch, but it’s very odd that Hughes learned a curve in a month and made it his best pitch. He learned a cutter during a couple weeks of a rehab assignment and it was good enough to get out major leaguers within two months.

The first change he threw yesterday literally made me go, “What the heck was that?!” out loud. You could see a complete change in his motion about a second or 2 before he even released the ball.

I don’t know if it’s lousy instruction, or if it’s just not a pitch which fits into Phil’s motion, but it may be time to either get him a new coach for that pitch or scrap it entirely. Yes, I know he’s young, but he seems to either pick things up quickly or not at all. Maybe they should focus on something else for a second off speed pitch: how about the circle change, the knuckle ball, hey, let’s get Dave LaRoche out here and teach him the Eephus! Anything but that change. Change is bad. The ancient Chinese were reputed to curse people with change. Well, I think Phil’s change is cursed.

7 thoughts on “Hughes Exhibits No Change in First Start

  1. Moshe Mandel

    Yeah, the first one he threw yesterday was awful. No bite whatsoever. But hey, it was the first start of the spring, and I am willing to give it some time. That being said, maybe he just cant throw it- not every pitcher can learn every pitch.

  2. The second changeup he threw was not commanded well, but it showed good fade and change of speed. It was too low in the strikezone but that is correctible should he actually throw the pitch more – which he never seems to have been instructed or taken the time to do.

    Those successive [nasty] changeups he threw to strike out Mark Teixeira during the now infamous no-hit bid show you he has the pitch somewhere in him. Pitching coaches believe if a pitcher can throw a particular pitch well he can repeat it, it just takes work and repetition. If Phil had never flashed anything resembling a good changeup he would not still be working on it, however if the pitch still has projection they will let him work on it until it proves futile.

    • Moshe Mandel

      That was 2 season ago. Everything I’ve seen since then tells me that it is a middling pitch. He will throw a good one every so often, but it will only work as an extra pitch, not a third pitch that would allow him to diversify his repertoire.

  3. I wasn’t really impressed with Hughes at all yesterday. His fastball velocity was low, 87-91, his curveballs weren’t biting and his changeup, like you said, wasn’t really there. He also wasn’t using his cutter. I’m hoping that this is only because it’s so early, but I wasn’t impressed.

  4. Tom Gaffney

    BBD,

    You must have been watching a different feed than I was, b/c the YES gun had him at 90-92 consistently. I think I saw one heater at 87 but that was it, and it may have been a gun misfire, b/c it looked faster. No one got a decent cut on his heater and it looked lively, esp since it’s the first outing. Velocity doesn’t faze me, b/c few guys are throwing (fast)balls to the walls in their 1st outing. Melancon was only sitting 91-92 and we know he generally sits higher.

    I only brought up the change b/c it looked SO bad and I’ve NEVER seen him throw it well. The other stuff (velocity and spike curve and command) we’ve seen him exhibit in the past, esp at the end of last year. I’m def looking at the change to see if it’s improved at all over the break, b/c it has been so bad in the past.

    • Please lets have some patience it was only the first outing. Phil had an amazing change in that no hitter in Texas so at 22 perfecting that pitch means becoming more and more consistent and confident utilizing this pitch as part of his arsenal. Again he is only 22 and this was the first spring outing,

  5. Tom Gaffney

    Oh BBD, they said on YES that they’re not allowing him to throw cutters until later in the Spring. Either the cutter places more strain on the arm, or they really want him to focus on the other 3 pitches.

    I totally agree that the curve didn’t have much bite, but we’ve all seen how nasty the curve is when he really wants it to break. But again, it’s early and he won’t overdo anything in the Spring, esp with his past history of nagging injuries.

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